Reason for the change
There has always been a debate among different generations for the superiority of their respective heroes, and same goes on in the cricket fraternity too. India has seen too many great batsmen, however, it will be apt to say that we have been really fortunate that in every decade there was a batsmen for us who not only dominated Indian cricket but was equally commanding at the international front. The difference was their ruling instincts and that, perhaps, was the reason for the comparison, they all were productive yet different in their game as circumstances kept on changing and this led to the debate that who is the greatest.
Rise of Sunil Manohar Gavaskar
Source: The Hindu
March 6, 1971 was the date when this little man walked into the field against the most dominant team of that time, West Indies. By then no one was aware of his potential and the West Indies were considered unconquerable at that time. When the tour started it was inevitable that India will be whitewashed but what happened next changed the entire context of the cricketing world, the young little Gavaskar not only fought gallantly against the Windies attack but also showed his dominance in the entire series. India won that series and yes, it was Sunil Gavaskar who emerged out as a hero. For the next upcoming years he ruled like a king, any opposition knew that in order to get India defeated it was Gavaskar who was to be controlled but it rarely happened. Once Micheal Holding, the great West Indian fast bowler had said about Gavaskar that it was useless to bowl short pitch to him as his defence was immaculate and bowling full length never made sense as he was a master of straight drive, that is how Gavaskar had built his reputation. There were contemporaries of his like Vishwanath, Vengsarkar and many others who were over shadowed by his brilliance, he dominated the cricketing fraternity for years and was an integral part of the 1983 world cup winning team. The youth of that time used to consider him as an idol who motivated them to fight against the odds, and by the time he retired, he managed to make sure that he will stay at the top for many years to come.
The young Tendulkar mesmerizes the world
Gavaskar had left the arena and there was a huge void to be filled now, many came and tried but no one could match his might and then came the date of November 15, 1989, a young Maharashtrian lad who looked nothing more than a school boy entered the field against the deadly attack of Pakistan bowling led by the great Imran Khan, when he took his stance the Pakistani bowlers started making fun of him saying, “is India just left with this kid to face us?”, and then came the moment, Tendulkar stepped out of the crease and smashed Abdul Qadir out of the ground, the whole Pakistani unit was shocked, they could not believe what had just happened and by the time the match ended, Qadir made an official statement that this boy ( Tendulkar) will go a very long way. What happened after that is history, Tendulkar ruled for more than 20 years, dominated every opposition he played against, his name features in nearly every batting record book. He could play every stroke from the batting notebook, the most important thing about Tendulkar was his conviction to adapt, he played for over two decades and could play multiple shots even to the literally similar deliveries. Narrated by one of his teammates, this incidence illustrates the determination and patience of Tendulkar.
During 2003-04 Austrailian tour master blaster was out of form and was constantly getting out caught behind while playing the cover drive, therefore in the Sydney test match against Austrailia he decided that he would not be attempting that particular shot to any delivery, bowlers like Lee and Bracken tempted him a lot to play that shot but Tendulkar in his innings of over 200 that lasted almost 2 days did not offer that shot to any delivery, that determines how focused he was towards his game that he could also control his nerves and basic instincts, and that, perhaps, was the reason that made him a legend and could get him past Gavaskar in terms of records.
Dynamic Virat and his flair
When Virat made his debut in the international circuit, Tendulkar was still an integral part of it, moreover he was in sublime touch and was sitting at the peak of every batting record. During the initial phase Virat struggled to leave his mark and played in the shadow of Tendulkar, however, as the time passed, fortunes started to change, Tendulkar’s curve began going downwards and Virat’s upwards, by the time Tendulkar made his call to exit from the international scene, Virat had already made a mark of his. Many felt that Tendulkar’s departure will leave the same void that was created by Gavaskar, however, Virat, with his grit and determination, not only contradicted that but also took the responsibility of the entire team. His focus towards his game could be understood by the fact that he has not even reached the half of his career yet but his records have already reached very close to those of Tendulkar’s. Virat’s attitude towards the game is something that makes him different from both Tendulkar and Gavaskar, like both of them he is technically sound but his hunger to stretch the finish line is the thing that makes him unique.
Virat’s passion for the game can be understood from an incidence that took place at a very early stage of his carrier, while representing his state team in a Ranji match he got the unfortunate news of his father’s demise and he was suggested by his then coach and team mates to leave the match and go back home to perform the last rituals, he did the same and went back to his home but out of everyone’s expectations he returned back soon to represent his Ranji team, everyone was surprised that how could someone take that massive emotional blow and be ready for the battle but it was not someone else, it was Virat Kohli, he put his gear on and marched towards the field and not only he made a century in that game but also made sure that his team reached a respectful score, after that game his coach had commented that this man can score under any situation, under any circumstances. That, perhaps, is the flair that is taking Virat towards becoming a legend.
Who is better?
This debate will always go on, however, no one can take away anything from these legends, they all played under different circumstances and different players. When Gavaskar played, he represented against the likes of Dennis Lily, Jeff Thomson, Holding, Roberts, Imran khan and many more of the same stature. Gavaskar not only managed to score against these world-class fast bowlers but he did that without even wearing a helmet. Same goes for the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, he was up against Wasim, Waqar, Warne, Murli, Shoaib, Lee, Donald and many more of the same class. He dominated all these stars and also remained a sole hope for billions of people for more than 20 years. Virat is a genius, his playing style and persona is adequate for the contemporary cricket, challenges faced by him are very different from those faced by Tendulkar or Gavaskar. Therefore at last I would like to conclude by saying that yes times have changed and so have the legends but it will be unfair to compare.